Archive for Avalon Liquor Store


Posted in Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by ballymote

This past weekend was our 2nd Annual Avalon Winter Weekend. Nine of us gathered at my brother’s beach house for 48 hours of good food, good wines and great conversation. The participants are the women that my wife has known since her high school days and their husbands. If nine people sounds like it doesn’t divide quite right into an equal number of husbands give yourself bonus points for being a math whiz. One of the women, Kathie M. is not burdened with a member of the brighter sex . The coupled group in  attendance for the decadent weekend included, Gerry and JoAnn B, John and Caryl G. John and Cathy B. and my wife, Kathy and I.

I began with a wine from France and slowly made my way through Napa and Sonoma in California, New Zealand, Spain, Australia and almost the Niagara Peninsula in Canada (a dessert wine that ended up coming back home with me). Instead of notes on each of the wines I will, in the interest of brevity, simply mention a few that stood out for me on their own and as accompaniment to the two BYOB meals we enjoyed on successive nights.

Most of the guests had already arrived when I pulled up to the Avalon house. They were well into the wine and quickly poured me a glass of 2007 Domaine de Soleiades, Vacqueyras. This is a nice, inexpensive Cote du Rhone wine that has a wonderful nose and a pleasant texture that would be very food-friendly. It is an 89-90 point wine.

 There was just time enough to sample Kathie M’s 2006 Annabella Cabernet. It was far from my favorite wine of the week but it was certainly drinkable.I’d give this a respectable 87 points. Just to show you how taste buds differ. Here are two different notes on this same wine.

 Perfect California Cabernet

By Umansky11382490, October 28, 2008
A great midpriced California Cabernet that is both complex and smooth. Loved it!

And on the other hand…

Absolutely Terrible

By bloom2022, March 29, 2008
Extremely vegetal and pretty acidic. So bad not even the new oak can cover it up. Really awful stuff. If you oaked the water from the flower-vase, this is what it would taste like.

 At dinner we went with a line-up of wines that included the 2006 Tudor, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. This was a very nice Pinot that went well with my chicken entrée. I’d give it 91 points. We also had the very drinkable 2004 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet. The one thing I have found with Whitehall Lane cabs from any vintage is that they are dependable. They may not be the absolute best but for the price they always deliver true cab flavors and in some years prove themselves to be excellent wines. This one deserved a 91. My personal contribution was the 2004 Elderton, “Ashmeade Single Vineyard “ Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, Australia. Quite honestly, I didn’t realize this was $65.00 cab as I chose it from a table of wines when my brother offered me to “go pick what you want” over the Christmas holidays. I don’t often think of Australia when I think of cabernet so I was, as were others, pleasantly surprised. This one hit all the right notes from a powerful bouquet of ripe dark fruits to a smooth and lingering finish. I’d have to give it a solid 93. Also present at the Friday evening dinner was a 2004 Capafons – Osso, Sirsell, Priorat a blend of Garnache, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Carinane from Spain. It was deserving of more attention and although I know I tried it I can not accurately reflect on it’s drinkability. Later that evening, as the cigar smokers bundled themselves against the bitter cold and ocean winds to smoke their cigars on the back deck, a 2006 Hesketh, McLaren Vale, “The Usual Suspects”, Shiraz was popped. This was a typical fruit-driven Aussie shiraz and I mean that in a good way as McLaren vale is a shiraz region that we have come to depend on for yummy flavors. It’s a wine you could proudly serve to Kaiser Soze!! Score this one 91 points. I don’t smoke cigars and it was way too cold to join them so I relaxed and read some before bed.

We went to the Avalon Liquor Store on Saturday while the women enjoyed a movie in Wildwood. Gerry B. bought a couple of bottles of Napa cab and we had a nice lunch at Harbor’s Bizarre (don’t ask me why, but I LOVE that name) in Stone Harbor.

At dinner on Saturday evening we had some really nice wines.  John G brought a 2006 Wither Hills, Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I enjoyed this with my chicken entree and feel it’s worth a solid 90 points. . Gerry B. had a 2004 Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain Cabernet which we had enjoyed at a previous BYOB dinner during the summer. I know Gerry will score this higher but I’d say it checks in at a 91. Another wine that I seem to enjoy more than some others and that is not immune from being maligned (unfairly, I would say) is the 2003 Chateau St. Jean, “Cinq Cepages” which is one of the few wines that seems to be dropping in price every year since claiming the Wine of the Year Award by Wine Spectator Magazine back around the turn of the century. I’m gonna give this a solid 93. We also sipped a wine we all like the 2005 Thumbprint Cellars “Climax” from Sonoma County. The description of this meritage wine on the back label borders on pornographic! I’d have to say 92 for this “Climax”.

There were other wines present that never got opened. Hey, we only had about 38 hours! We did our best. Actually, there were a few sipping wines floating around that I neglected to note. I think one was a Hogue Cabernet. At any rate, it was a lot of fun to enjoy so many wines in the company of good friends. We are all looking forward to a continued downward spiral in the South Jersey real estate market which might make a Third Annual Avalon Winter Weekend a possibility next year!


Posted in Shopping for Wine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by ballymote

Perhaps a better title for this post would be Wine Shopping at and on the way to the Jersey Shore. I took the opportunity of my week in Avalon to visit a number of wine outlets to see what was available to those on vacation in the area. What I found was that the selection varies greatly from store to store as do retail prices. I guess it’s only natural to expect to pay a little more for all items, including wine, when you are on vacation and that pretty much proved to be the norm. Here is a breakdown on the places I visited.


This one is located on Route 40 just pass the intersection of Route 54 in the town of Buena using the back roads to the Jersey Shore. The first thing that caught my eye was the preponderance of local wines from NJ vineyards throughout the area. If you are looking for your favorite Blueberry wine, and who isn’t, this would be the place you’d want to be shopping. They also have a large selection of what I refer to as “plonk” wines, the Cavits, Hacienda’s, Turning Leaf’s of the wine world. If you search real hard though you can find a handful of decent choices such as Franciscan Cab at $25.99, the always dependable, Menage a Trois red blend at $11.49. For the real Aussie fans there is even a couple of Two Hands Shirazes, Lily’s Blend at $56.99 and Angels Share at $33.99.  It’s not a place where I would spend much time browsing the selections but you can find something of interest in a pinch.


Located on OceanView-Woodbine Rd in Woodbine NJ, this store sits a few miles from busy Rt 9 which leads to access to many Jersey shore resort towns. You would expect that a wine outlet in this area would have a well-stocked and varied supply of wines. You’d be wrong. Campark’s focus is on beer and maybe I shouldn’t blame them as there is no question beer is the drink of choice for the hordes arriving for vacations at the beach. The few wines aside from the “plonk” brands that are available would be the Columbia Crest “Two Vines” series that usually sell for about $7.99 elsewhere marked at $12.99 at Campark. The always dependable Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva is there for $29.99 and if you want to spend a few bucks for a Chardonnay there is the Husic at a brisk $44.99. One interesting find on a shelf marked “Sale Wines” was a lone bottle of Cockburn Vintage Port 1997, for $34.99. This usually sells for $65 – $80. I was tempted, but ended up being concerned as to how well it had been preserved in this store. Interestingly, this Campark Liquors sold one of the two winning tickets in the 2007 Mega Millions Jackpot of 350 million dollars. Buying a lottery ticket would be a better idea than buying a bottle of wine here. Just my opinion, though.


Located at 23rd and Dune Drive, Avalon Liquor Store manages to cram an awful lot of stock into its meager space. I am pleased to report that although you will definitely pay a few more sheckles per bottle than back in your own neighborhood, Avalon Liquor has a tremendous selection of quality wines available year round. Their Australian collection is top notch with all of the Mollydookers available including the top of the line Velvet Glove ($224.99).  The entry level Mollydookers such as The Boxer, The Maitre’d and Two Left Feet are all $32.99 as compared to $28.99 and $24.99 in most wine outlets. If the lottery ticket you bought at Campark Liquors turns out to be a winner you might purchase the 2005 Chateau Pavie for $550.00 (about $50.00 more than most places charge). They have an excellent selection of Pinot Noirs, Cabernet’s and Zinfandels. They also have some of my favorite QPR wines available such as Pillar Box Red for $13.99 (12.99 at home) and Strong Arms Shiraz $11.99 ($9.99 at home). It takes awhile to make sense of the layout of the wines but there is enough good stuff in this store to keep a wine geek busy browsing for quite some time. Kudos to Avalon Liquor for being a top notch wine outlet in a town with some really good BYOB’s.


Located at 6400 Landis Ave. in Sea Isle City, Kix is a good place to buy your beer for your time at the shore. There wine supply is limited and not very impressive. They have all the usual plonk suspects and a few real wines such as Zin 91 at $18.99, a Silver Oak Cab for more money than I wanna spend and the always present Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva at $31.99. My advice would be to grab a six pack of Smythwick’s at Kix and pay the $1.50 to drive over the bridge into Avalon and get your wine at Avalon Liquors; but hey, that’s just me!